Activists Love Document Discovery for Exxon, Don’t Love it as Much When it’s Focused on Them
Activists working at the Rockefeller foundations and groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have made it their mission since at least their infamous 2012 anti-Exxon conference in La Jolla, California to do everything they can to orchestrate an AG investigation of ExxonMobil under racketeering laws.
So we all had pretty good laugh when Kenneth Kimmel of UCS complained to the Washington Post this week about being “dragged into” the #ExxonKnew fight after a federal judge issued a discovery order against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to determine whether “bias or prejudgment” influenced her decision to launch an investigation into ExxonMobil.
As the Post reports,
“We’re not a party to this litigation,” said Kenneth Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It raises questions about how an [non-governmental organization] like UCS can be dragged into a legal fight between Exxon and the attorney general.”
Lee Wasserman of the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), which is bankrolling the entire #ExxonKnew campaign, put his two cents in:
“How tragic that the management of a once great corporation would permit itself to devolve into a civic bully committed to intimidation of public interest advocates,” Wasserman said.
First of all, UCS is the very group that has been working behind the scenes to convince the AGs to investigate Exxon in the first place. In fact, in one email obtained via pubic records requests, Peter Frumhoff of UCS gave other #ExxonKnew activists a heads-up about their collusion with the AGs saying, “Just so you know, we’re also in the process of exploring other state-based approaches to holding fossil fuel companies legally accountable – we think there’ll likely be a strong basis for encouraging state (e.g. AG) action forward.”
As we’ve noted may times, the Union of Concerned Scientists is the group that hosted the 2012 conference in La Jolla, California (funded by the Rockefellers), and in their report on the conference, they laid their entire plan out this way: “State attorneys general can also subpoena documents, raising the possibility that a single sympathetic state attorney general might have substantial success in bringing key internal documents to light.”
Frumhoff, of course, joined fellow activist Matt Pawa to brief the AGs ahead of their March 29th press conference to trumpet their investigations alongside Al Gore. We know they tried to keep that meeting a secret because on March 30th, Pawa sent an email to Lem Srolovic with the New York Attorney General’s office, as well as Kline in the Vermont Attorney General’s office, explaining that a Wall Street Journal reporter was asking about the briefing. Srolovic responded, “My ask is if you speak to the reporter,” Srolovic wrote, “to not confirm that you attended or otherwise discuss the event.”
As for Lee Wasserman, he was actually the one who hosted a meeting for the ExxonKnew crew at his Rockefeller Family Fund office where activists, including Matt Pawa, Naomi Ages (Greenpeace), Bill McKibbon and Jamie Henn (350.org), Bradley Campbell (Conservation Law Foundation), and others, brainstormed ways “to establish in [the] public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution,” “to delegitimize them as a political actor,” and “to force officials to disassociate themselves from Exxon.”
In a rare moment of transparency, Wasserman actually told Reuters that his organization funded #ExxonKnew groups like InsideClimate News and the Columbia School of Journalism in order to “drive better public understanding and better climate policy.”
Speaking of the Rockefellers, newly released emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign reveal Michael Northrop of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund sent Clinton campaign chair John Podesta an article by #ExxonKnew activist Naomi Oreskes saying “InsideClimate News is the source of these stories” and he’d be “Happy to make an intro to the publisher, David Sassoon.”
In the Washington Post article, UCS’s Kimmel went on to complain,
“The letter that we received from ExxonMobil’s lawyers signals that the company is planning a massive fishing expedition into UCS’s internal e-mails and communications with others, including the press,” Kimmell said in an email. “We don’t see how this relates to the company’s current disputes with the New York and Massachusetts Attorneys General, and it appears to be yet another effort to intimidate us from exposing climate science deception.”
Considering that the discovery order has been issued in order to determine whether “bias or prejudgment” influenced the AGs’ decision to launch #ExxonKnew investigations, their correspondence is absolutely the point.
Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger put it best when he wrote last week,
“If attorneys general are to have the subpoena power, they need to be held accountable. Hence the investigation of the investigators.”